Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Sky is Falling (Again)

Have we had our fill of bogus predictions yet? The Watchman has!
  • The sky is falling! The sky is falling! --Chicken Little
  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented” --US patent office, 1899.
  • “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932.
  • Y2K will cause massive disruptions around the world!
  • By 2010 there will be 50 million environmental refugees as a result of global warming! – United Nations, 2005.
  • If we don't pass TARP, the financial system will collapse!
  • If we don't raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd, financial Armageddon will ensue!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Durbin Admits Theft

Sen. Dick DurbinImage by afagen via Flickr

One of the Watchman's cardinal beliefs is that if you let a politician talk long enough, he/she will eventually tell the truth on himself/herself.  A truckload of lies come first, of course, but often the truth outs in the end.

Today, United States Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) stumbled into such a truth when he compared the Congress to thieves:

"The bottom line is those who want to push a balanced-budget amendment are saying 'I can't promise you that I won't steal again, but I will vote for the Ten Commandments,'" he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Bravo, Richard!  This is as apt a Congressional  analogy as ever you have spoken.  Congress is like a band of thieves, stealing bread from the mouths of citizens -- and most egregiously from the mouths of citizens not yet born.

However, your analogy, like all analogies and most especially like all political analogies, breaks down just past that initial truth.  A representative voting for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution is not like a thief voting for the Ten Commandments, the enforcement of which the almighty holds in abeyance until the end of the age.  It's like a thief, voting for God to strike him dead the next time he picks a pocket.

And that's a vote we should all get behind.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Obama: The Second Term of Jimmy Carter

Wow.  Compare this downer with the Watchman's previous post on sexy Paul R-Y-A-N!

Thanks Laura!

Chris Matthews' Freudian slip:  refers to Obama as President Carter

Who Says Wonks Aren't Sexy?

When Atlas shrugged I knew you’d carry the weight
That PX90 program has you in great shape
But more than than you’re stimulating my brain
Your Roadmap to the Future has lit this girl’s flame

Paul R-Y-A-N, he’s gonna cap that spending
Budget Hunter, Surplus savior’s got me dreaming
Paul R-Y-A-N, he’s got the camera’s waiting
Raise those polls and ratings

It’s more than a crush
It’s a wonky fascination
Driven by fiscal reformation
If you’re deficit or debt, he will tear you apart
Paul Ryan has the Roadmap to my young gun heart

You’ve got the way to make me fall
And the means to follow through
Entitlements are something made for me not you
Obamacare repeal is seduction for free
The Patient Choice Act is victory

Paul R-Y-A-N, he knows money
Like a bad romance, he makes a dime worth a damn
Paul R-Y-A-N, he’s talking savings baby
He’s a hawk, don’t get caught
Thinking that money is free

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Midnight Laundry

The following appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the July 13th edition of the Naperville Sun:

A recent survey by North Central College Students shows that 57% of Naperville electricity buyers do not understand the benefits of the $22 million smart grid now under construction by the city. Allow me to give you the Cliff Notes version: You'll save money on your electricity bill if you are willing to do your laundry in the wee hours of the night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There Oughta Be a Law! Gee, There Already Is.

The dome on the Illinois State Capitol in Spri...Image via Wikipedia
Mob violence in Chicago!  Stay off the streets!  Barricade your doors!! Hide the women and children!!  What shall we do??

Enter the brain trust of the Illinois legislature.  You know, the ones who can't balance their checkbook to save our lives.  Unable to do what really needs doing, two of the brain trust, Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) and Angelo Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), just moments ago introduced new legislation to combat the mob violence.
“Street violence is a serious threat to our community,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “We must modernize state law to account for the danger of mob violence and work to deter its growing prevalence in our neighborhoods and public places.”
Modernize?  Why do the well established laws against assault, battery, and robbery need to be modernized just because the bad guys figured out how to use Facebook to coordinate their crimes?  Gee, maybe we should ban Facebook because it facilitates crime.  If as liberals suggest, it's the presence of guns in our society that causes crime, then surely the presence of Facebook is just as dangerous.

Battery in Illinois can already be charged as a felony when there is serious injury.  We already have 'mob' laws on the books with the minimum threshold for a 'mob' being two people.  If two stupid kids go shoplifting, they can already be charged with 'mob action'.  Do these legislative geniuses really believe that before a flash mob gets on the el, they think to themselves, "What I'm about to do used to be a class 3 felony with a sentence of 2-5 years in prison, but since McAuliffe and Saviano upped it to 3-7 years, maybe I should bow out of this.  I mean, I can do a nickel standing on my head, but 7 years really scares me."

How long will we suffer these fools?  And these are not our normal, run-of-the-mill democrat fools.  They are Republican fools!

Stick a fork in Illinois.  It's done.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Picking Winners and Losers

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, U.S. Rout...
Image via Wikipedia

The Mississippi River is flooding again.  [yawn]  So is the Ohio River. [stretch]  Just as spring follows winter and night follows day, these rivers flood every spring. [snore]

What makes this spring's flooding noteworthy is the fact that it won't be mother nature who decides which river communities stay dry and which get flooded.  It will be the federal government.  It will not be a battle between riverside communities and the rivers, but a battle between two non-adjacent iverside communities themselves with the Army Corp of Engineers as the judge, jury, and executioner.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Disability Fair

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal... Today the Watchman sounded off with the Naperville City Council (yes, again).

Dear Naperville City Council,

I note with disappointment the council's approval of funding for the annual 'disability fair'.  As a disabled Naperville citizen and perhaps the most vocal disability rights advocate in the city, I tell you this expenditure is utterly unnecessarily.  There are numerous private sector 'disability fairs' throughout the area and the city has no business wasting taxpayer dollars to duplicate what the private sector already provides.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Truth About Wisconsin

Every now and then, the bad guys will tell the truth on themselves.  If you think the protests in Wisconsin have anything to do with educating children, this video should clear that up for you.

In 2009, Bob Chanin, the retiring General Counsel for the National Education Association spilled the beans on the real reason why the NEA exists.
"It is not because of the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.  NEA and our affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.  And we have power because there are 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year..."
It's about money and power.  Period.  The battle in Wisconsin is about the union's power to suck the public teat dry and the tax payers unwillingness for that gluttony to continue.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy

This is a bit wonkish, so hang with me.  The first graph is the US unemployment rate according to polling conducted by the federal government.  The second graph is the unemployment rate according to a Gallup poll.  The two organizations use different sampling techniques, so the results are never exactly the same.  However, the differences are usually small and the trends (moving up or down) are usually the same.

For the past several months the differences have been growing and the trends in opposite directions.  The government would have you believe that unemployment is declining and is now at 8.9%.  Gallup would have you believe that unemployment is rising and is now at 10.3, as high as it was a year ago.

Who's right?  Neither.   In the 1970's the government stopped counting so-called 'discouraged workers' -- those who couldn't find a job and have stopped looking -- and neither of the unemployment numbers above include the discouraged workers.

When we add in the discouraged workers and those people working part-time who would rather be working full-time, we get a better sense of the magnitude of our economic crisis.  The feds put that combined number (U6, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls it) at 15.5%, while Gallup puts that number at 19.9%

When 1 in 5 people are unemployed or underemployed, that's pretty much the definition of a depression, isn't it?

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Disabled Continue to Get Short Shrift from City of Naperville

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...
It's tough being disabled in Naperville.
  1. In November, the Naperville City Council voted to reduce the number of on-street handicap parking places in downtown Naperville.
  2. Earlier this month, the city created 26 new parking spaces for the Naperville Train Station .  The Americans with Disabilities Act required that 2 of those 26 new spaces be configured with access aisles and handicap parking signs, but the city didn't bother to do so until the Watchman came calling.
This summer Burlington Northern will replace the platform at the downtown Naperville train station. This is a good thing.  The platform is full of cracks in the concrete that get wider every year.  It's something of a miracle that a woman hasn't caught a heel in those cracks and fallen under the wheels of an approaching train.  The Watchman has been advocating for that platform to be rebuilt for many years now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Chihuahua of the West

Ronald Reagan once called Moammar Qaddafi "the mad dog of the Middle East".  Well, today, the mad dog of the Middle East met the Chihuahua of the West. (h/t to Monica Crawley for the well turned phrase.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guilty Until Proven Innocent in D203

TO:  School Board, Naperville School District 203 

I found the superintendent's email this evening very disturbing, first due to the possibility that a student might have been sexually abused by an NNHS counselor, but also because the superintendent's email was heavily slanted toward an assumption that the employee was guilty.

Then I went from being disturbed to outraged when I read the principal's email, which does not even use the word 'alleged', but boldly speaks of "our student who was the victim of abuse". He goes on to apologize for his failure to protect a student from something that has yet to be proved ever happened. I'd like Principal Pobst to apologize to the community for failing to upload our nation's 235 year adherence to the presumption of innocence!

This employee could be guilty as sin. Or maybe he's innocent. But the Distrtict has no business maligning him in these emails until he is convicted in a court of law. If he is found innocent, you've opened the taxpayers up to an expensive slander law suit. Surely you tax us enough to have attorney's review press releases like these before you send them out.

Liberty Watchman

Principle Pobst's email to the community follows:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bill of Wrongs, Passed

Open Letter to:
The Naperville City Council

RE:  Smart Grid Bill of Rights

Last night was another example of a city council out of touch with the community.  You keep bulling forward despite strong opposition in the community.  Now personally, the Watchman thinks the people who spoke last night claiming there is a health issue with the smart meters don't have a compelling argument based on science.  Yet they should have a right to opt-out even if their rationale for opting out is misguided.  Freedom must include the right to make wrong choices or it is not freedom at all.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Smart Grid Bill of Wrongs

The Naperville Smart Grid Customer Bill of Rights (NSGCBoR) is one of those government promises that seems so reasonable, so well-intentioned, that no reasonable person could oppose it, when in reality it is an exercise in naivety and public relations, that no reasonable person can put any faith in.

First and foremost, a true Bill of Rights would be accompanied by penalties for violations of those rights.  Yet there are no penalties whatsoever in the proposed ordinance.  If the city violates the privacy rights of citizens, what happens?  Nothing.  If the city doesn't honor its promise to give citizens the right to make their own choices over the time and manner of their personal power consumption, what happens?  Nothing.  The Watchman challenges the city Council to include such penalties.  He doubts the city will do so because any such penalties would be levied against the city itself.  How about compensation for citizens whose rights are violated?  Those provisions are absent as well.

This ordinance is a paper tiger.  It can be ignored any time the city wants with no repercussions for the city.  Sure, you can make a complaint to the Public Utility Board (PUB), but that board has only met once in the last year and a half.  Maybe the board's acronym (PUB) explains why they don't meet very often, or perhaps it explains where they meet.  So highly regarded is the PUB that it has not been consulted for advice in drafting or overseeing the Smart Grid Initiative... ever.  Why should the public believe that board can be an effective arbiter of complaints?

But that's okay because the ordinance is so vague that the city could never be found in violation of it. Key terms such as "convenient access", "available through multiple channels", "convenient user interface", and "clear and transparent manner"beg for further clarification yet there is none in the ordinance.  What constitutes convenient access?  Who decides if the city is being clear and transparent?  Maybe the PUB can help sort it out.  Oh, wait...

There are a few bold promises in the NSGCBoR.  "The city will never ration electricity."  That should be comforting, right?  Let me tell you fellow citizens, once the city has the capabilitity to set electricity rates on a per device basis in your home, they can ration your electricity usage, just based on price.  They can say that electric lights have a base rate of X, while air conditioning has a rate of 100X. You will sure feel like your electricity is being rationed when you can't *afford* to have as much as power as you need, powering the device that you need, at the time that you need it.  It will be de facto electricity rationing.

"Wait, wait, wait," says the NSGCBoR, "Customers can select a billing rate structure that meets your needs. This includes the traditional fixed-rate pricing and time of use pricing programs. Customers will have the ability to change programs."  Here again, all the city has to do is set the "time of use pricing" to be X and the "traditional fixed-rate pricing" to 100X and you will drop the traditional fixed-rate pricing model like a live wire on a wet floor.  Once the city can use price to control when, where, and how you use electricity, they will have too much control of your life.

Whatever rights the NSGCBOR is alleged to confer are as ephemeral as a summer breeze and about as powerful. The ordinance is so vague as to be meaningless.  Worse, it gives citizens the impression that they have rights, which they most certainly do not.  The Watchman encourages you to read this ordinance, alongside of other existing city ordinances, and you will see quite clearly that it was written by a PR firm and not by legislators or regulators.  There was no public input into this so-called Bill of Rights.

The entire Smart Grid Initiative continues to roll on with virutally no public support.  Pretty much like Congress with healthcare.

But far be it from the Watchman to be only a naysayer.  The NSGCBoR would have real teeth if it included a provision that disallowed differences in electricity rates between traditional fixed-price models and time-specific or device-specific models of more than, say, 1%.  Is 1% the right number?  I don't know.  But the city should have the courage to pick a number, present it to the public, and live by it.

Plug into choice?  Really??  Only if your idea of choice is turning your decision making over to the city.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Hosni is History

Hosni Mubarak 2003
Image via Wikipedia

Two questions now come to mind.  First, is there really any difference between Mubarak being in control and the military being in control?  Mubarak was a career military officer and was formerly the head of the Egyptian Air Force.  His staying in power or leaving office was always at the nod of the military.

Second, if the military keeps to its promise of staying in power only during the 'transition', who or what will lead next?  Egypt does not have a history of democracy, so it's hard to imagine a Jeffersonian democracy springing up in the shadow of the Pyramids.

The transition to military rule was a violation of the Egyptian constitution.  When Mubarak stepped down, the Speaker of the Parliament should have taken over, not the military.  Absent the rule of law, what's going on in Egypt is a revolution, the outcome of which is entirely up for grabs.

It's great to see the joyous celebrations on the streets of Cairo and the Watchman wishes the protesters well.  Unfortunately, the odds that this will turn out well for Egypt, the US, or the world are very small.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

"Bureau Special"

The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau o...

 I'm often asked why the Watchman doesn't post articles more frequently. It's because he doesn't want to just regurgitate the news as so many bloggers do. He looks for a fresh angle or an uncovered story, things not so easy to find. A story like this one.

The terrible shooting in Arizona is an open and shut case, is it not? The gunman was captured immediately after the shooting. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses. The entire tragedy was captured on videotape by nearby security cameras. Can there be a more slam dunk conviction?

Yet the FBI has allocated 250 special agents to this case. This is called a “bureau special” in which agents from anywhere in the United States can be involved in this case. In addition to the FBI resources, there are 170 local investigators on this project. Why?

"We are pursuing all of Loughner's associates and all his movements for the last 22 years. We're examining who he knows, running down every lead and trying to collect all the information we can," said FBI Special Agent Jason Pack.

If this was a private investigation, where investigators cost real money and real people had to come up with that real money to pay for them, this would not be happening. It's only in the surreal world of the public sector where investigators are as unlimited to deploy as the printing presses are that print the money to pay for them, that we see this kind of wanton waste.

They are not kidding about this, folks. The FBI intends to interview every living soul which had any contact with his crazy man on any day of his life over the last 22 years. That's why you need 250 FBI agents – to conduct all those interviews. And that number could rise to 500 as it has in previous “bureau special” operations.

What is the public interest here? Surely it's to see that justice is done, to see that Loughner gets a fair trial and a swift execution. But is it in the public interest to determine what Loughner's motive was? The Watchman thinks not.

It's a fool's errand to try to determine the motives of a crazy man. And enough information has come out in the press, including Loughner's own writings and the many reports of people who knew him well, for us to accept with a great deal of confidence that Loughner is indeed, crazy.

What is to be gained by learning that in, say, the sixth grade, Loughner was encouraged by another crazy kid to shoot and kill government officials? Isn't there a statute of limitations on conspiracy? And even if there isn't, who cares? Crazy is as crazy does. It's that simple.

It's tempting to think that this might be a plot by the left to uncover evidence in support of their initial absurd claims that the shooting was somehow caused by the rantings of talk radio personalities. But that does not appear to be the case. This is not government waste with a mission, this is just standard operating procedure government waste. They do this all the time for high profile murder investigations.

The lesson to be learned from the battalion of G-men combing the Arizona desert is simply this: Even when the government is doing something that it should be doing as opposed to wasting time doing things it has no business doing, it does that thing poorly and wastefully and to excess.

God save the United States of America.

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